MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Mountaineers were less than a minute away from upsetting No. 4 Texas on Saturday afternoon in the WVU Coliseum.
With 55 seconds left to play, the Mountaineers had possession with a 70-69 lead. The best outcome for West Virginia would have been to run the shot clock down and make a shot, giving Texas the ball back down by three with around 30 seconds left. That, however, is not how it worked out for WVU.
- 35 seconds: Emmitt Matthews Jr. misses a jump shot, but collected his own offensive rebound to reset the shot clock and give WVU more time to run off.
- 13 seconds: Miles ‘Deuce’ McBride missed a shot, but Matthews again was able to collect the rebound. Surrounded by Longhorns, Matthews made the split-second decision to go up for a layup, instead of trying to dribble or pass the ball out to eat up more time. Matthews was fouled on the shot, giving him two three-throw attempts.
- 10 seconds: Matthews, one of the best free-throw shooters on the team at 83.9%, missed both attempts, giving Texas the ball back still only trailing by one. On the other end, UT’s Courtney Ramey started to drive to the basket but passes out to Andrew Jones in the corner when help defense started to come.
- 1 second: Jones hits the 3-point shot with one second left on the clock to give the Longhorns a 72-70 lead. WVU would not get a last-second shot off and failed to complete the upset.
Following the loss, fans were quick to point to Matthews’ decision to shoot the ball with 10 seconds left rather than trying to dribble it out.
“The reality is, he’s going to dribble it out and they’re going to foul him out there and it’s just going to run a few more seconds off the clock,” WVU Bob Huggins said when asked about it postgame. “That’s not going to end the game.”
Additionally, had Matthews been fouled not on a shot attempt, he would have only been awarded a one-and-one free throw attempt, instead of two. Senior guard Taz Sherman said it does not make sense to try and pin the outcome of the entire game down to one play.
“We can say he missed two free throws, whatever,” Sherman said. “But then we’ve got to talk about him getting the offensive rebounds, you’ve got to talk about me not getting a stop the play before that. It’s a lot of plays that lead up to the end of the game being close, it’s not just on one specific play.”
Huggins pointed to a different sequence, earlier in the second half when WVU allowed an easy pass to a Texas player under the basket to score that cut the WVU lead to three with less than two minutes to play.
“I thought that’s the play of the game,” Huggins said. “You can talk about Emmitt missing free throws but if Emmitt makes two they still could have tied it and won in overtime.”
Matthews finished the game as WVU’s fifth-leading scorer with nine points. He led the team with four offensive rebounds and had eight overall.